This question is similar to Is there any way to save the develop settings of a virtual copy in Lightroom?, but tackles an adjacent problem. When handling multiple virtual copies of a DNG file the different settings of the copies that are stacked together seem to be saved in the catalog and in the catalog alone. As far as I can tell the virtual copies are not saved to the DNG even if a "save to file" operation is performed on the copies.

Is it possible to save multiple Lightroom virtual copies (the whole stack) in a single DNG file? I'd like to be able to import just the DNG into other Lightroom installations and having all of the virtual copies of a DNG to show up in the catalog where the DNG was imported to. As of now it seems like only the master edit is transferred with the DNG itself and the rest of the edits only exist as settings in the catalog they where created in.


2 Answers 2


Unfortunately no. Only one Develop Setting can be saved to a dng file.

However you have 2 options to export the Image and its Virtual Copies out of your Lightroom catalogue.

Option 1

Select your whole Stack, and click on the Export-Button in the library module. Select the "export as dng" Preset.

Now Lightroom creates a separate .dng file for each of your virtual copies, which can be processed by Photoshop or another tool.

Option 2

Put the images you want to export into a collection or simply select the folder where they are stored. Now do a right click and select "Export as catalogue". Lightroom will create now another catalogue, and just export one .dng for each master file. You now can import that whole catalogue into another Lightroom catalogue (possibly on another machine), and you will get back your virtual copies.

E.g. You have your Catalogue called "Master", from there you select one dng with 3 virtual copies. Now export it to another folder with the name "temporary". Lightroom will create a .lrcat file and copy the dng to it.

Now you can open your second Catalogue (for simplicity called "second"), and then go to "File > Import from another catalogue". Then select the temporary .lrcat file, and Lightroom asks you some questions about storing the imported files. After the import finishes, your master dng and all its 3 virtual copies are in your second catalogue.

Please be aware that all collections from "Master" catalogue will be copied as well.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Well, at least the DNG specs say about NewSubFileType: "...allows for multiple renderings (not just multiple sizes of a single rendering) to be stored in a DNG file.". So it seems possible, even if Lightroom does not support it. \$\endgroup\$
    – U. Windl
    Commented Jan 16, 2022 at 18:50

Option 3

  • check option: Catalog Settings/Metadata/ automatically write changes into XMP
  • select your Master DNG file & create a snapshot labelled: Master
  • select your Virtual Copy & create a snapshot labelled: Virtual Copy

If you return to your Master DNG file, you will see that the Virtual Copy snapshot is added to the Master & can be called upon to create a Virtual Copy. Using this principal you can manually embed all of your copies in the Master DNG, which would export with the Master DNG.

For a more automated approach try: LR Snapshotter

I would strongly recommend Validating DNG before exporting/archiving.


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